Pressplay extends service; sings through MP3.com

Online music subscription service Pressplay widened its potential audience Tuesday by announcing that the service is now available to all U.S. consumers and through a fourth affiliate, MP3.com.

The service, formed by major labels Vivendi Universal SA and Sony Music Entertainment Inc., was launched last December to an initial audience of several thousand people.

Tuesday's announcement extends Pressplay's reach as it attempts to take on rival services such as Listen.com Inc.'s Rhapsody service, MusicNet and the new, soon-to-be unveiled service from Napster Inc. Pressplay offers music streaming and downloads and is one of the first new services to offer CD burning capabilities.

Pressplay's availability through the popular MP3.com site will mark its fourth affiliate debut. The service is also available though Yahoo Inc.'s Music channel, the Microsoft Corp. Network (MSN) and Roxio Inc.'s digital-media site.

Pressplay President Andy Schuon touted the affiliate business model last week during a panel discussion on the future of digital music sponsored by Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. During the panel discussion, Schuon said that by working through affiliates the service could play to an established core of users and utilize the affiliate companies' expertise at marketing to an online audience.

But Pressplay is not alone in this respect, as most of the new online music services are banking on the same idea.

In the end, most analysts agree that a cornucopia of musical content and a worldwide reach will be crucial in determining the online music ventures' success.

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